Friday, March 9, 2012

Catholic clerics urge Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry

A Catholic bishop and 30 priests have written a letter to the United Nations and Sri Lanka's president to call for an inquiry into war crimes, the Catholic news agency Misna reported on Thursday.

The letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UN Human Rights Council was signed by Joseph Rayappu, the bishop of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka who is already well known for his campaigning for the rights of ethnic Tamils.

"Only an independent international organism can help us find the path to true reconciliation," the signatories said, criticising the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) set up by the government in 2010.

The LLRC "has identified well the crimes carried out by the Tamil Tigers but has failed to treat important issues... even though it has collected evidence and testimonies" on crimes carried out by the armed forces, the letter said.

The UN estimates that around 7,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last months of a civil war that it says killed up to 100,000 people since 1972.

Sri Lanka has faced strong international criticism over the bloody finale of the war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 but has avoided censure at UN meetings.

The United States is planning to put forward a resolution at the Human Rights Council to censure Colombo for alleged crimes against humanity.


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